GORE IN THE STORE
Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans
THE SISU ****
Directed by Jalmari Helander.
Starring Jorma Tommila, Aksel Hennie, Jack Doolan.
Action, Finland, 91 minutes, certificate 15.
Reviewed as part of Glasgow FrightFest 2023.
When listing cinematic pleasures, watching Nazi’s die in various bloody ways must surely rank near the top. If you are inclined to agree then Jalmari Helander’s fun and often outrageous actioner SISU is a rip-roaring, pared to the bone blast that comes across like a cross between John Wick, British war comics and the Sven Hassell paperbacks that used to dominate bookshop shelves with over-the-top scenes of WWII carnage. The only thing that feels missing here is that there are no subtitles going “AIIIIEEEE” when the baddies face their doom by bullet, grenade or airborne land mines.
The action here takes place towards the end of the war in the cold countryside of Lapland. The defeated Nazi’s are fleeing the country, leaving as much destruction as they can in their wake, with one particular SS battalion carting a truckload of women prisoners home with them. When they come across Aatami, a grizzled gold miner making his way cross country with his dog and sack full of unearthed treasure they make the unwise decision of trying to take what is his and his life. Without spoiling it, let’s just say it does not go well for the fleeing invaders who soon discover that Aatami’s legendary reputation as “The Immortal” has not been exaggerated.
It is a simple premise which is smartly executed in a massively entertaining fashion. What could be a repetitive chase/shoot/chase/shoot structure is elevated by the verve with which it executes its setpieces, which usually involve executing Nazis. Also helping here is the hefty dollop of black humour which runs throughout. As the second film to play this years Glasgow FrightFest there was much cheering and laughter bouncing off the walls of the Glasgow Film Theatre as the silent and lethal Aatami rampages through the stunning Finnish landscape in rip-roaring and eviscerating fashion.
Although he is easy to cheer on while he does all of this, Aatami could have been a one-note character. While doing little more than glower menacingly with next to no dialogue, the acting of Jorma Tommila manages to embue the character with a formidable presence that carries the audience along in full support of him while his impressive physical prowess makes his legend completely believable in the context of the films over the top nature. At the same time there is also a vulnerability that has you wondering how he will escape the seemingly insurmountable odds that he comes to face as he gets closer to Aksel Hennie’s villainous SS captain who also is gifted an extra dimension of characterisation.
At a brisk ninety minutes it literally flies by with its spectacular action sequences. It catapults Helander into another league entirely from his already impressive and entertaining works before, most notably RARE EXPORTS. It has pretty much everything you want in an action film; a simple premise, a great hero, horrible villains, visceral action set-pieces and a cute dog. Great fun. More please.
Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans